No way to talk to seniors

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When former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, spoke at an event in Oakland, Calif., this spring, he had hoped to tout the Simpson-Bowles budget-cutting plan. California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA) members had other ideas.

They turned out to protest the appearance by Simpson and former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles. The CARA members passed out fliers that drew attention to Simpson-Bowles policies, including proposed cuts to Social Security benefits.

AFT retiree Hene Kelly was among the Oakland protesters. "People were really interested in what we had to say. We had the facts on the changes Simpson and Bowles want to make to Social Security and Medicare," says Kelly.

CARA's protest got the attention of more than just the attendees. When Simpson returned home to Wyoming, he wrote a letter responding to the protesters and mailed it to CARA in May. Simpson had some harsh things to say to CARA members, calling them "a wretched group of seniors" and "greedy geezers."

"I guess the fact the people wanted to know more about what we had to say got to Simpson, but his letter was out of line," explains Kelly, who had her own response to Simpson's letter. To express her displeasure, Kelly started a petition calling on the people who sign it to let members of Congress know they do not agree with Simpson's comments, or support his proposals to cut Social Security.

Referring to people as "greedy geezers" and "wretched" is no way to talk to seniors, Kelly wrote in her petition. Those are not the kind of remarks that public officials, who are tasked with one of the most important policy decisions in our country's history, should be making, says Kelly. "Social Security is a contract between America and its citizens. If you work hard and put money into the system, that money is yours. I'm fighting to ensure that Social Security will be there for my children and grandchildren."

Kelly is hoping to get at least 3,000 signatures. She's well on her way; more than 2,000 people already have signed on. Once she's achieved her goal, the petition will be delivered to the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

You can add your voice to Kelly's and many others. Take a moment to sign the petition.


[Adrienne Coles, Alliance for Retired Americans]

June 22, 2012